Wednesday, March 16

Blood, sweat and cheers

This week is one of few in the year when I put normal life on hold. In stark contrast to usual, I am very stationary, glued to the television most of the day and moving only when absolutely necessary.

Normally I like to think of myself as a genial host, the door is always open and anyone may come and join us at any time.

Not This Week.

This week I have a single and uninterrupted focus. I am revelling in the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival, the annual horseracing Olympics.

The phone lies unanswered, the door bell is resolutely ignored. Every afternoon this week, as the Channel 4 racing theme tune plays out across the digital network, I shall retreat to the sofa, armed with the day's edition of the Racing Post and concentrate until that tune fades out at tea time.

I love the muted hum of anticipation, the roar at each start, the precise angle of take off and landing as each fence is jumped, and the athletic stretch of horse and jockey as they face the mountainous hill and flatten in resolute gallop to get to the line first. I even love the post race analysis, the relaxed sway of the jockeys as the horses make their way back to be unsaddled, their camaraderie palpable in the steamy air.

With a depth of passion that largely baffles my friends, I shall be shouting encouragement at the jockeys and rocking gently backwards and forwards as if I am riding myself. I may even exuberantly leap to my feet if a spectacular final fence jump is required. One can only hope the neighbours will not see.

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